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Nutraceuticals: a goldmine but for whom?

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A whole new industry has grown up around dietary supplements that purportedly can, enhance exercise performance or enhance the recovery from exercise. Many of these new supplements are ‘functional foods’ or nutraceuticals that have active molecules or ingredients that purportedly can reduce inflammation, prevent oxidative stress or have other benefits for whatever may ails an equine athlete. The blitz of advertising that usually accompanies such miracle ergogenic (i.e. performance enhancing) products suggests that a great deal of scientific research has been published to support those claims. Unfortunately, the majority of new dietary supplements are being promoted with little or no scientific basis for the claims made on their labels or in the advertisements touting their benefits. In many cases, no research has been performed to demonstrate efficacy of these new expensive, avant-garde, dietary supplements in the horse. So how can we determine if a new supplement improves recovery from exercise or has potential to improve athletic capacity? The purpose of this review is to outline the important questions a horse owner, trainer, veterinarian, or regulator should ask before deciding it is ok (safety, legality) or even beneficial to feed a supplement to an athletic horse.
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Keywords: dietary supplements; horses; nutraceuticals

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 7, 2017

More about this publication?
  • 'Comparative Exercise Physiology' is the only international peer-reviewed scientific journal specifically dealing with the latest research in exercise physiology across all animal species, including humans. The major objective of the journal is to use this comparative approach to better understand the physiological, nutritional, and biochemical parameters that determine levels of performance and athletic achievement. Core subjects include exercise physiology, biomechanics, gait (including the effect of riders in equestrian sport), nutrition and biochemistry, injury and rehabilitation, psychology and behaviour, and breeding and genetics. This comparative and integrative approach to exercise science ultimately highlights the similarities as well as the differences between humans, horses, dogs, and other athletic or non-athletic species during exercise. The result is a unique forum for new information that serves as a resource for all who want to understand the physiological challenges with exercise.
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